A business continuity plan protects companies from the slowing or shutting down of business processes when disaster strikes. Discover the essential components of a BCP.
What Is the Definition of a Business Continuity Plan?
A business continuity plan (BCP) is a plan for a company to avoid or recover from potential threats that disrupt normal business operations. Natural disasters, pandemics, and cyberattacks are among the threats. In the event of a disaster, a company's business continuity plan ensures that both employees and resources are safe and able to function normally.
A BCP is a critical component of a company's risk management strategy. When a disaster strikes, business disruption is costly to an organization's finances, disrupting normal operations and potentially resulting in financial losses if customers turn to competitors. Insurance rarely covers these losses, so developing an effective business continuity plan is essential for both large and small businesses.
IT’s Role in Business Continuity
A company's information technology (IT) department is typically in charge of assembling a business continuity team to develop its BCP. Members of the team work with business partners and stakeholders to conduct a risk assessment for all potential business vulnerabilities; they may also consult BCP templates or BCP standards established by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).
When potential threats are identified, the planning process investigates how they might impact critical business functions; the team then develops strategies to mitigate their impact. They also conduct regular walkthroughs and tabletop exercises to ensure that the BCP's recovery strategies remain effective.
Despite the fact that both business continuity plans and disaster recovery (DR) plans address emergency situations, the BCP is an action plan for all business processes at a company. A disaster recovery plan is primarily concerned with recovery procedures for a company's IT systems.
Key Elements of a Business Continuity Plan
A business continuity plan contains several key components. These are some examples:
Business impact analysis: The BIA is a critical component of any business continuity plan because it assesses how business disruption affects a company financially. Physical damage to buildings and office space, data centers, and equipment, supply chain disruption, regulatory fines, and the absence of key personnel are all covered by the BIA. The costs of recovery efforts in the BCP are then compared by stakeholders.
Checklist: In the event of a disaster, the business continuity plan team leader must have access to a hard copy checklist of personnel and provider contact information. An emergency contact list for key personnel, cell phone numbers for responders, emergency services, data backup sites, and a list of supplies and equipment are all part of these vital records.
Emergency management: A company's BCP should include an emergency management plan in addition to the disaster recovery plan. An emergency management plan, also known as an emergency response or disaster management plan, is a document that outlines the company's procedures for minimizing the human impact of an emergency situation. This includes measures to protect property and personnel from physical harm, such as evacuation procedures.
Recovery strategies: Any BCP must also include a step-by-step breakdown of the company's recovery plan. The breakdown includes the first stage of the emergency response, when team members initiate the plan, as well as the establishment of alternate locations for staff and human resources. Once in place, the team monitors recovery efforts using two objectives: recovery time objective (RTO), which is the amount of downtime allowed for IT systems, and recovery point objective (RPO), which is the time frame for which a company can withstand data loss.
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